Here’s a little video I made that pretty much sums up the last four weeks in London town!
Here’s a little video I made that pretty much sums up the last four weeks in London town!
The First Week in London
A week ago, today, we landed in London. I can’t believe it’s a week already, because everything has whizzed by in what feels like a whirlwind. We had a good flight, but unfortunately, my seat was broken and wouldn’t recline. I didn’t make a fuss of it, unlike the woman in the row behind me who had the same problem and moaned non-stop. At the end of the flight, one of the airhosts came and brought me a bottle of champagne. The cow in Row 60 didn’t get champagne. You see? It pays to be nice. It pays in champagne, to be specific.
When we landed in London, and went through passport control, Ross was on edge and nervous. It’s like you automatically feel like you’re breaking the law, even when you’re not. Ross came into the UK on an EEA Family Permit, which basically gives him the same rights as a European passport holder. For this reason, I told him to join me in the EU queue at passport control. He didn’t believe me, and started to panic. Well, when he walked up to the passport control officer, and was asked for a landing card, his world spun out of control. Why? Because the officer had a very strong accent, and it sounded like he wanted a ‘London card’. Ross panicked, insisted he didn’t have a London card, started walking back out the queue, he stared at me with terror in his eyes. The security guards started stepping forward thanks to his strange behaviour. I watched his whole world fall apart before his eyes. Eventually the officer turned to me and said, “Are you with this gentleman?”, “Yes.”. “I just asked him for a landing card!”. “Don’t worry,” I said, “he’s just getting confused.”
Luckily we made it out without Ross getting arrested and/or sent back to South Africa. We got our bags, and knew there was no way we could jump on the underground with our crazy-heavy suitcases, so we caught an Uber instead and enjoyed the views of London as we drove in (and of course got stuck in a traffic jam). We eventually arrived at our AirBNB in Clapham, and dropped off our bags before we went exploring. We had even booked a few flat viewings for that day because our number one priority was to find somewhere to stay. We saw some absolute shockers of apartments, and I was very demotivated. We used First Contact to help us get started, collected our SIM cards and then went and bought airtime. But, we didn’t realize we were supposed to change it into data (we were spoilt by out South African phone contracts, to be honest), and managed to eat into our £5 almost instantly – thanks, Snapchat! I was wearing heavy boots, and the sun was shining. I was boiling hot and it felt like my toenails were starting to bleed.
London was showing off, and it was so hot. I drank all the water, and of course soon needed the loo. Do you think there are public bathrooms guys? Because no, no, there aren’t. It’s not like there are shopping malls that you can just run into to use the loo. Noooope. We didn’t have any restaurants near us, and I thought my bladder was going to burst, until Ross asked a random man renovating his house if I could use his bathroom. Thankfully everyone is super friendly here and he let me in. But it was awkward. So very awkward. It was already on our first day there, in my black Woolies boots, that I decided I couldn’t live that life anymore and went into the first Footlocker I found to buy a pair of comfy walking shoes. I noticed that all the Londoners wear their sneakers (or shall I stick to my SA roots and say ‘takkies’) on the tube and while walking. So I bought a sweet-ass pair of black Nikes. I’m in with the Londoners now, basically.
We eventually got back to the AirBNB and were absolutely FINISHED. I had hit 17,000 steps (thanks, Fitbit) that day. That seemed like a lot until I subsequently hit over 20,000 steps every day after that. The showers here are different too, by the way. We discovered this in our AirBNB when you had to turn one tap one way – that controls the pressure of the water, and the other tap gets turned another way to regulate the temperature. Not a fun way to learn, but it was a lesson nonetheless.
What amazed me was to see how many smokers there still are. A lot of people smoke here, but I guess it’s different to compare to South Africa, because you don’t walk down the streets amongst crowds of people. You sit in your car, pretty oblivious to what people are doing around you. Another lesson that we had to learn pretty early on, was that you can’t live in ‘Rands’ and constantly convert all your money into rands. For example, two coffees and two pastries cost us £9 at Starbucks – R200?! HOLY GOD. But it’s not the same when you’re earning pounds. Except I’m not earning pounds yet because I still need to find a job..
In any case, we had a positive week and eventually managed to find a place to stay – just in the knick of time, just before our kittens arrived in London! It’s a gorgeous house. Two bedrooms, a lounge, a dining room and a cute kitchen – plus a garden! It is kitted out with a washing machine, stove/oven, microwave, fridge, freezer and dishwasher. And it was cheaper than most of the places we were looking at. We are therefore, very, very happy. The only problem is, we were waiting for our Forex transfer to go through before we could put down a deposit on the place. And without a deposit, they wouldn’t give us keys. We therefore couldn’t buy/order furniture or even do measurements in time. The Forex deposit came through on Thursday, and we moved in on Friday. We literally moved in, as our cats were arriving. We spent our first night in the house literally sleeping on the floor. We used our travel pillows, and then had towels and jackets as our duvet. It was pretty horrendous, I ain’t gonna lie. This moving countries business is not always as easy and simple as it seems. Our flat is in Morden, very close to Wimbledon (with all the other Saffas), and right by the tube so travel is a piece of cake.
We have ordered all our furniture but it won’t be delivered until next week so we are literally sitting on the floor. We have luckily managed to get a bed at least. We will only get wifi on the 9th of June. I don’t quite know how we’ll survive in the interim – I foresee us spending a lot of money on Starbucks because they offer free wifi. I also foresee myself getting fat, because do I ever just get a bottle of water? No, Andy insists on a Grande Caramel Macchiato every. single. time.
In any case, we’ve got the basics sorted out, and we now will just wait for the rest to fall together. My main aim of this week is to find a job. At this stage, I’m kind of willing to do anything as long as it brings in the money. At least we have a roof over our heads, I’m sure the rest will all fall into place.
We’ve only done a touch of sightseeing – Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, Big Ben (completely by accident). The beauty of it is we have plenty of time to see London because we aren’t going anywhere else, anytime soon.
This blog post is coming to you from a comfortable couch in a Starbucks in Wimbledon, and I don’t think I could be much happier than I am right now.
It’s time to say goodbye. The last few months have been a total whirlwind, and the reason for me not blogging at all. Things have just been so hectic and crazy, and I have been battling to keep up. On top of this, I am feeling very overwhelmed and nervous. I’m a jumble of emotions, and hoping that I’ll be able to clear my mind, calm down and start thinking clearly in the very near future. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, Ross and I recently made this announcement..
Deciding to move overseas was by far the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life. There are so many things that you don’t even consider when you start to discuss moving – and only once the decision has been made, does it all dawn on you. The admin. The people you’re letting down. The successful job you’re leaving. The financial implications of such a big move. The family and friends you’re leaving. The guilt. The other person you’re going with and how it affects them.
Ross and I started discussing leaving South Africa early in 2015. With my dad being so sick, I wasn’t quite ready to leave because I wanted to be in South Africa when he passed away, but I already started doing my research back then. A little while after my dad had passed away, I started throwing myself into researching it (which was my therapy and a great distraction) and Ross and I eventually took a deep breath and made the decision to do it. It was not easy at all.
In the beginning, all I felt was excitement – and now, after what feels like a blink of the eyelid, we suddenly have 6 days left in South Africa. I’m now feeling all the emotions. Excited. Sad. Happy. Anxious. Hopeful. Terrified. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going anymore. I’m being dragged down by admin, and by my immune system failing me causing me to be sick constantly.
Ultimately, I’m just so excited to travel – that’s pretty much all I want to do with my life right now. I’m lucky enough to have a German passport, so I feel that when you have the ability to travel the world, why not use it? Luckily enough, Ross and I have been together for a fair while now, and have been paying bills together which means he gets to join me on an EEA Family Permit. Of course we’d love to travel from South Africa but it is just completely unaffordable – it’s far out, and the Rand is too poor to us to be able to afford holidays.
On the other hand, it’s not often in life that you get the opportunity to start all over again. I have been feeling out of place in my life, and in my career for a while now and I therefore see this as an amazing opportunity for my future (and hopefully, one day, my children’s future).
Things have just run so smoothly throughout this process. We put our flat on the market ‘just to see the response’ and it was sold in less than 24 hours. We had a show day on the Sunday afternoon – someone saw the place at 4PM, and we received an offer to purchase from her at 9AM the next day. The transfer has already gone through! I decided to sell my car, and Ross’ uncle is buying it from me for his son! Our friend Candice and Rory have just bought their first place and basically needed an entire houseful of furniture, and appliances – they pretty much bought everything of ours. The rest of our stuff was sold simply, and easily, on a Facebook group for secondhand sales. We’ve sold everything for more money than it would have cost to ship everything to the UK. Side note – we decided not to ship anything to the UK because the houses there are tiny and our furniture was unlikely to even fit through the doors, plus pretty much all flats are furnished or part-furnished so we don’t really need to ship our things.
We found a great deal on our flights, we booked a well-priced AirBNB for when we arrive, in a great area (so as to avoid inital homelessness).
I think my biggest fear is what will happen once we arrive. We need to find a flat within five days, before our
cats children arrive. Speaking of which, some people have been very surprised to hear that I’m taking my cats with me. My cats are my children, 100%. I love them so much, I can’t picture my life without them. It may sound silly to some of you – but I was raised to love animals. There were pets in our home from the time I was born, and ever since then. Secondly, when I decided to get a cat (which then turned into two cats because they shared such a close bond, the breeder didn’t want to separate them), I knew that I was taking on a real responsibility and that they would join me – whether moving to another house, or moving to another country – throughout their lives as they are my responsibility.
So, I’m hoping we find a place to stay quickly. The other problem is that I don’t have a job yet, and I’m mentally processing the best thing to do in this situation. I will be unable to work as a midwife in the UK (let’s call it a midwife crisis – teehee. I’m joking but my soul is having a nervous breakdown by the way), as my degree is not recognized in the UK. I can work as a general nurse BUT I hate general nursing with a passion. It’ll cost me R30,000 to register and write exams. If I happen to fail the exams, I don’t get the money back. I’m not sure it’s worth paying that much money to do something I hate – but at the same time, a job is a job. I’ve been hoping to get into the marketing and communications industry for a while, so that’s what I’m focusing on but I haven’t found luck yet. I’ve applied for over a hundred jobs – easily! I’ve only heard back for four jobs but haven’t been successful through the interview processes. Rejection sucks. At this stage, I feel like I’ll do any work that I need to do as long as it pays the bills. I’ve never been unemployed before and it’s a really strange feeling.
To be honest, it all just feels completely surreal. I said goodbye to my closest friends this weekend, and will say goodbye to more people over the course of the week. I know the time is going to fly by and before we know it, we will be boarding our flight.
I truly love South Africa and I’m going to miss my country so much. I’m just hoping we have made the right decision and that there are plenty adventures awaiting us on the other side of the world. I’m hoping to update this blog as much as possible to document the process of moving countries. When I posted about us leaving, I had countless messages from friends (and complete strangers) wanting to know how I am going overseas and how they can do it too – so I will give more information about the EEA family permit as we go along and figure it all out for ourselves. Hopefully this blog can also become a resource for people wanting to move overseas themselves.
What I really must say though, is how amazing people are. People I have never met before have been so supportive and encouraging. I have been offered countless places to stay, countless couches to sleep on, countless offers to help find a job. Human beings are so pure and good. This was the most refreshing experience of all. Thank you to everyone who has helped us or has offered us help in the way you have – you know who you are. I think I would have lost my sanity by now if it wasn’t for all of you.
And so, it is time to say goodbye (for now).
I thought I owe you all an update with regards to my job and the clinic I work at, and how things have changed – because they have changed a TON in the last six months, and I realized I hadn’t told any of you what was going on! (more…)
Living in a complex is not all it’s cracked up to be and I’m currently loathing the fact that I live in a complex. Sure, it comes with the bonus of
a false an added sense of security, having your garden automatically cared for, a swimming pool with none of the responsibility, a body corporate to nag to fix issues, and there’s always friendly people greeting you among the complex streets.
What I do not enjoy is the fact that my complex is overrun with cats, and that my baby daughter cats get attacked on a daily basis, resulting in over a thousand ronts in vet fees for ‘fight wounds’ (I do kinda love that it sounds like Chloe is part of Fight Club though – but she never talks about it weirdly enough).
Ross and I are dim sum obsessed. I’m fairly convinced that we could happily eat dim sum for breakfast, lunch and supper. So, naturally, rather than spending all the money on dim sum in restaurants, we decided to try make our own. (more…)
The past few weeks have been particularly stressful but there are a few things keeping me going: mostly BEAUTY PRODUCTS! Or as I like to call them, my beauty essentials.
Here are my 2016 beauty essentials, in no particular order.. (more…)
What happened to me? Let me start off by apologizing for my unwarranted absence from posting lately. I’ve had so many blog posts to write, and I just have absolutely run out of time.
Is it just me, or is this January completely crazy and busy? And boy, do I have a lot to tell you..
Man, I am still struggling to get back on the damn bandwagon, you guys! It has been such a struggle.
I only lost 200g in the last week, but to be honest, after one too many toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch because I lost all will to meal plan, I actually expected to put on at least 1kg. (more…)
I said I was going to enjoy the December festivities. Oh holy hell, did I enjoy or them, or what?!
I have to be honest with you all – I went overboard. Now, originally, I had stated that I would only allow myself an unrestricted diet on the 24th of December when I celebrate Christmas with my family. Well that just didn’t happen. Holiday time hit, and I just ate everything and anything – I’m not even exaggerating. (more…)